Who’s really buying the cars today — and should dealerships be switching up their approach correspondingly? According to recent Nielsen data, women in the U.S. not only buy more than 50% of new cars on the market, but they influence over 80% of all car purchases. In other words: women are, essentially, the driving force of the U.S. car market, and car dealerships and marketers alike should be paying attention.
Additional polling by online car classifieds website Gumtree Motors discovered that many couples are buying cars together without either individual controlling the purchase decision — more evidence that women are exacting more influence, overall, in the car buying process. “Finding that almost two thirds of couples will look for a car together, this reaffirms that buying a vehicle isn’t just a man’s domain,” said Andrew Hooks, the director of Gumtree Motors.
How can these findings influence the future of car sales, and car dealerships? Industry experts point out that the market needs to orient itself away from the age-old approach where men are expected to make the purchase decision, as this can influence both the buying experience, as well as the after-purchase satisfaction.
In fact, 50% of women report being dissatisfied with their vehicles — and this could be turned around if dealers put more time into listening to what women want, rather than just pushing what they want to sell. “Women prefer small and more maneuverable vehicles, but they also give importance to design, spaciousness, safety, quality of materials, color and sustainability,” explains Frost & Sullivan, a global consulting firm — yet many dealerships are still trying to sell cars based on brand, model, and flashiness.
The car industry could afford to take a hint when it comes to crafting a more positive buyer experience — according to Nielsen national data, the average number of dealer visits has dropped from 7 to 1.5 per purchase over the last 10 years.
As the Telegraph points out, “Dealerships are dying because they’ve failed to make an emotional connection with their customers… the car industry needs to be as prepared to reinvent its retail model as it is to reinvent its cars.” Rather than deal with companies that fail to connect with them, many customers — especially women — are deciding to purchase vehicles online instead. These customers are not lost forever, though. If dealerships can find ways to make the car buying experience worth the time and effort for female consumers, they can stand to boost profits at a time when the national car market is feeling somewhat stagnant.